Friday, November 09, 2007

Downtown Wayfinding Signs

No, you’re not seeing quadruple.

Last week the City had four examples of new wayfinding signs installed along South Grove Avenue between Prairie and Fulton Streets. At first glance they may seem identical, but if you take a closer look you’ll see some small variations.

The City’s Project Action Team is soliciting feedback from the community about the signage. The Downtown Neighborhood Association has offered this blog as a quick and easy way to let them know what you think.

If you’re pretty adept at getting around downtown, try to think like an out-of-towner as you scope out the signage. Like Uncle Ned from Wisconsin. If he’s driving by at 20 miles per hour, would that sign be helpful or confusing? Is there enough information? Is there too much? Is it the right information?

Having just come off a major signage project at Judson University, I’ve learned a thing or two about signage. Number one – signs are information tools. They should present information clearly and effectively. Number two – signs are marketing tools. So, not only should they present information clearly and effectively, but they should present it in an appealing and eye-catching way. And that way is different for each business or organization or, in this case, city.

For example, though St. Charles and Elgin may have the same information on its signs, like directions to the riverfront or to the library, the signs themselves would be as different as St. Charles and Elgin are from each other.

Though you should never judge a book by its cover, people will judge a city by its signage. Which is why the City has invested a lot of time and resources into a comprehensive wayfinding signage system for downtown. It’s all part of the downtown streetscape project. The signs you see on Grove are just one example. We will see more popping up as phases of construction are completed.

So here’s your chance, Elgin. Check out the signs and get to blogging.

1 comment:

Richard Layman said...

this is a nice sign. It happens I am studying wayfinding for a commercial district evaluation I am working on right now. If you're really interested, the book Signage and Wayfinding, edited by Berger is excellent, or at least the chapters on museums, urban areas, historic areas, universities and campuses, and transportation.

How about posting the other three versions of the signs, for those of us not in Elgin?